Successful recovery following musculoskeletal trauma: protocol for a qualitative study of patients’ and physiotherapists’ perceptions

Nicola Middlebrook, Nicola Heneghan, Deborah Falla, Lucy Silvester, Alison Rushton, Andrew Soundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Annually in the UK, 40,000–90,000 people are involved in a traumatic incident. Severity of injury and how well people recover from their injuries varies, with physiotherapy playing a key role in the rehabilitation process. Recovery is evaluated using multiple outcome measures for perceived levels of pain severity and quality of life. It is unclear however, what constitutes a successful recovery from injury throughout the course of recovery from the patient perspective, and whether this aligns with physiotherapists’ perspectives.

Methods: A qualitative study using two approaches: Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis following the Kreuger framework for focus groups. A purposive sample of 20 patients who have experienced musculoskeletal trauma within the past 4 weeks and 12 physiotherapists who manage this patient population will be recruited from a single trauma centre in the UK. Semi-structured interviews with patients at 4 weeks, 6 and 12 months following injury, and 2 focus groups with physiotherapists will be undertaken at one time point. Views and perceptions on the definition of recovery and what constitutes a successful recovery will be explored using both methods, with a focus on the lived experience and patient journey following musculoskeletal trauma, and how this changes through the process of recovery. Data from both the semi-structured interviews and focus groups will be analysed separately and then integrated and synthesised into key themes ensuring similarities and differences are identified. Strategies to ensure trustworthiness e.g., reflexivity will be employed.

Discussion: Recovery following musculoskeletal trauma is complex and understanding of the concept of successful recovery and how this changes over time following an injury is largely unknown. It is imperative to understand the patient perspective and whether these perceptions align with current views of physiotherapists. A greater understanding of recovery following musculoskeletal trauma has potential to change clinical care, optimise patient centred care and improve efficiency and clinical decision making during rehabilitation. This in turn can contribute to improved clinical effectiveness, patient outcome and patient satisfaction with potential service and economic cost savings. This study has ethical approval (IRAS 287781/REC 20/PR/ 0712).
Original languageEnglish
Article number163
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study has been independently peer reviewed to support funding by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, specifically the Physiotherapy Research Foundation Scientific Committee. This has allowed independent expert peer review. Acknowledgments

Funding Information:
This study is funded by the Private Physiotherapy Educational Foundation (PPEF) as part of a joint funded initiative with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust (CSPCT), which assumes responsibility for funding the study. The funder has no direct role in study design, conduct, data analyses and interpretation, manuscript writing and dissemination of results.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Focus groups
  • Musculoskeletal trauma
  • Recovery
  • Semi-structured interviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Successful recovery following musculoskeletal trauma: protocol for a qualitative study of patients’ and physiotherapists’ perceptions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this